New breastfeeding statistics for England

By Julie Griffiths on 05 December 2017 Breastfeeding England

Public Health England has revealed the latest statistics on breastfeeding prevalence at six to eight weeks after birth.

The breastfeeding rate for England for 2016-17 is 44.4%, which is a slight increase on previous years at 43.2% (2015-16) and 43.8% (2014-15).

The statistics, based on data submitted voluntarily by 142 out of 150 local authorities, are collected quarterly by NHS England and show the number and proportion of infants who have been fully, partially or not at all breastfed at six to eight weeks post-birth.

Nutrition lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Mary Fewtrell, said that while there has been a minor improvement in the number of women breastfeeding at six to eight weeks, numbers are still very low, especially when compared to countries like Norway, which achieves rates of 71% at six to eight weeks.  

Mary added: ‘Typically, the number of women who start breastfeeding in the UK is high, sitting at around 80%, however this number plummets after a couple of weeks. We know this is due to a number of factors including a lack of local support thanks to services falling victim to public health cuts, inconsistent messaging from healthcare professionals, social stigma and lack of family support.

‘To improve breastfeeding rates we urgently need government show they take this seriously and invest in local support so that the health benefits to mother and baby can be realised.’

The official statistics are available here.